Award winning broadcaster, change maker and world record swimmer Ayo Akinwolere is taking on a one-mile open water swimming challenge at this year's Arla Great North Swim.

The event is the biggest open water swim in the UK and will take place from 9-11 June at Brockhole on Windermere, against the stunning backdrop of the Lake District National Park.

Nigerian born Ayo became a household name when he joined the BBC's flagship children's programme, Blue Peter. Since then he has become a regular fixture on our screens as a sports presenter and through his thought-provoking current affairs coverage exploring issues of identity and ethnicity.

He set two world records in 2012 for swimming in one of the deepest stretches of water on earth, becoming one of four people of colour with a swimming world record.

In 2015 he created THE SWIM CHALLENGE, a project to prove that people of colour can swim. Ayo took 15 non swimming adults of various ethnic backgrounds from across London and redesigned a swimming programme to teach them how to swim. In 10 weeks the participants went through a gruelling programme helped by the Swim Dem Crew, to challenge their fears of the water and learn to swim. All the participants learned to swim, even more remarkably, eight participants from the group went on the swim in open water at the Great Manchester Swim and Great London Swim.

This year Ayo is keen to continue to promote inclusivity at swimming events and explore the connection between open water swimming and mental health, as part of the Great North Swim's campaign focusing on the benefits of open water swimming for mental wellbeing.

“For me, participation in open water swimming events is not just about breaking down barriers and challenging stereotypes, it's about showing the presence and participation of people of colour in these spaces is not only possible, but also necessary.

“The benefits of exercise as relates to mental health - especially exercising outdoors - are well documented and should be available to everyone who wants to enjoy them. People from different ethnic backgrounds face specific issues around mental health, whether that relates to increased risk, delayed diagnosis or barriers to treatment. Events like the Great North Swim are an amazing introduction to outdoor swimming and I'd like to encourage as many people as possible to train for and enjoy open water swimming, whatever their level of experience.”

Ayo will also be delivering a talk in the event village over the weekend, discussing issues around inclusivity and offering insight on how to get more people involved in open water swimming.

Ayo will be joining thousands of swimmers of all ages and abilities in June. They will be taking on a range of distances, from the beginners Swim250 all the way through to the open water ‘marathon' 10K. 

The Arla Great North Swim is a weekend-long celebration of open water swimming. Set against the stunning backdrop of the Lake District National Park, swimmers and their supporters can also enjoy the best of local food and drink and outdoor activities at the events home, Brockhole on Windermere.

For more information or to enter today, click here.